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Where Were You When the Lights Went Out?


FlyBackTransformer
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I was going through my discs and I came across a vcd I had burned 5 or 6 years ago. Back then for economy's sake if I could fit 2 films on a single disc at a low resolution, I would...just so long as I got the aspect ratio and formatting correct. The teaming was somewhat incongruous, Hell is for Heroes followed by Where Were You When the Lights Went Out? I had read right here how the latter has become somewhat of a rarity. I watched it. I must say I rather much prefer Hy Averback's later work on M*A*S*H. :) I guess that kinda marital farce comedic stuff is now pretty much dated.

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I dont think TCM has ever shown Lights. I think someone here mentioned there's a rights issue involved (its an MGM movie so figured there must be some hitch) I saw it a long time ago. Not that good a movie. There is one funny segment between Doris and Robert Morse, but its mostly a tired series of vignettes. It was actually based on a French farce (I think) that had nothing to do with the blackout, that was added to the mix. It did really well in NYC (natch) but not very well elsewhere.......

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LOL

 

Though now that you mention it, I wonder why Garner wasn't opposite Day instead of the charismatically-challenged Patrick O'Neal in that second flick FlyBack here recorded???

 

AND btw...I think I remember watching bits and pieces of "Where Were You...." some time ago, but I couldn't really remember much of it, and so I went to Wiki to read the film's synopsis, and lo and behold the following was the very first line of that synopsis:

 

>November 9, 1965: Margaret Garrison (Doris Day) is a stage actress who has spent her career starring in virginal roles, although she would relish the opportunity to play someone less savory, such as an Italian prostitute, at least once before she retires.

 

And so THEN I thought how ironic it was after reading about Doris' character in this film that it seems sometimes "life DOESN'T follow art", because of how the conversation in that "Kim Novak Crying" thread yesterday mentioned that Doris turned down the role of Mrs. Robinson because of the exact OPPOSITE reason her character in THIS flick gave for WANTING to play those "unsavory" types!

 

(...well, I found it ironic, anyway)

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I've never seen it. I think it was an afternoon movie on a local station back in the mid to late 70's, (maybe early 80's it went away in 1982.) I bet it was cut to shreds. They shoehorned Planet Of The Apes in to a hour and a half. On the weekends Abbot And Costello films were squeezed into a hour. Ah good times.

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I saw it when it was first released, at Radio City Music Hall. Eh. A few funny moments, but overall, eh. Patrick O'Neal was eh. Robert Morse was a bit obnoxious. The only bits I really liked were two short ones featuring Pat Paulsen as a train conductor. At the time, Paulson was very popular, courtesy of the Smothers Brothers tv show. Also, there was some topical interest in the film, since the real "Big Blackout" had occurred in New York City and surrounding areas.

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I didn't much care for Morse's opening narration (what with a lion coming out of a NYC subway exit) Basically the film uses the 1965 east coast power outage as a backdrop for silly marital bickering between Doris Day and Patrick.O'Neal. I didn't find Morse's Waldo Zane obnoxious at all just comedically ineffectual. It wouldn't have hurt for Averback to have worked up some slapstick between Morse and Day beyond rapping their arms around each other while sleeping. It's pretty mild unfunny stuff. Hy should have concentrated on more blackout vignettes as the marital bs between Day and O'Neal just ain't that interesting.. :)

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Oddly, I remember the title song more than what went on in the film. A lot of the stuff was black out type skits that wasnt related to Doris' part of the film....(people dealing with the blackout).........the Doris part was just a retread of previous DD plots. She's found in a compromising position with a stranger etc........

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Lights was one of a series of films she was forced into by her hubby to keep the money rolling in for his "investments" (which eventually almost bankrupted her and would have if he had not died) The only ones she really enjoyed doing were The Ballad of Josie (although she admitted it wasnt any better than a tv film) and her last film, With Six You Get Eggroll.....She talked about it a bit in her bio. She really hated Caprice. Along with Starlift the only 2 films she really hated.......

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I don't think it's nearly the bad picture it has developed a reputation for being. Of course, I saw it at Radio City Music Hall with 6,000 other people, who absolutely loved it. When DD's name appeared in the credits there was enormous applause and at the end there was also sustained applause. In addition, I saw it several other times - in Boston with a sold-out audience at the Paramount and when it played Concord, NH, I watched it several times including a Saturday evening with a near sold-out house. I don't think it plays as well when watched on video or television without the benefit of hundreds or thousands of others watching. I think it works better with an audience. It is hardly in the top tier of Miss Day's films but it's had a bad rap. Sydney Guilaroff who did Miss Day's hair for the film, as he had for most but not all of her MGM releases, said it was a very happy set. Hy Averback, the Director knew Miss Day from the 1940's, and she loved working with him again. He had done a lot of Bob Hope's radio shows that Miss Day appeared on. She also loved Glenn Connelly's clothes so much that she asked Glenn to do her wardrobe for "Eggroll". In New York City alone, the film was seen by more than 600,000 people during it's successful 6 week run at the Music Hall. Nationally, it was MGM's second biggest moneymaking film during the late Spring and summer season. I love the natural way she conducts the interview in the opening scene......it's so real and unaffected. The sleeping potion scene, in theatres, created in the words of one critic, "the greatest sustained laughter I have ever seen in 30 years of reviewing films....."

While it's no "Pillow Talk", "Daisies" or "Thrill of it All", it's also nothing for anyone associated with it to be ashamed of.

 

I'd like to quote the first paragraph or two of the review for "Lights" that appeared in the June 17, 1968 issue of Box Office Magazine, one of the more important "trade publications" at the time.

 

"Using the famous New York City blackout of 1965 as its starting point, this sparkling MGM comedy takes off on its imaginative route. Doris Day's gifted talent for sophisticated comedy is ideal for her role as Broadway's top star, who is currently starring in a play called "The Constant Virgin" and who also yearns for a new image. This proves to be Miss Day's best vehicle since her golden era of "Please Don't Eat the Daisies", "Pillow Talk", "Lover Come Back" and "That Touch of Mink" a few years ago."

 

They have probably overstated the fact but with an audience, there were some good laughs.

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I know, I've read that also and heard her talk about it. Melcher really messed her life up.. As much as she resented having to do the Tv shows to fulfill that 5 year contract that Melcher got her committed to (that she had NO knowledge of) at least she had a that opportunity to make back millions that Melcher and the atty stole and mismanaged. (Hibi, pls see last pm I replied to you before you leave)

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I cannot seem to find anyone who has a definitive answer as to what the problem is that is preventing the film from being available.

 

When Doris Day signed a two picture contract with MGM, it was to do two comedies at the studio that would be produced by Everett Freeman and her husband, Martin Melcher.

 

The first of the two was "The Glass Bottom Boat" which is readily available. The second was "Lights" and I've had someone check with issues around Freeman's estate (He died in 1991) but have not found an answer yet.

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